Big Hero 6 represents the true coming-together of Disney and Marvel universes (even moreso than being able to play The Hulk alongside snow-queen Elsa in the videogame world of Disney Infinity). Disney animators (with no small influence from their Pixar brethren) have taken an obscure Marvel Comics super-team and brought them to cute, plastic life with very enjoyable, family-friendly results. Set in the bayside urban amalgam known as “San Fransokyo”, this movie basically tells the story of a young robotics genius named Hiro (voiced by Supah Ninjas‘ Ryan Potter) and his medical-robot-turned-sidekick, Baymax (voiced by 30 Rock‘s Scott Adsit). Of course, connoisseurs of kids/animated movies will recognize a lot of elements from previous films, including most-obviously Pixar’s The Incredibles (as another emotional, character-based super-team adventure), The Iron Giant (also about a young, moody boy and his well-intentioned yet powerful robot), E.T. (where a boy gradually learns to understand his odd, non-human friend) and How To Train Your Dragon (which had a very similar “first flight” scene where boy and dragon/robot fly together through the air and bond emotionally — E.T. also had one of these scenes). Even with all these past influences, Big Hero 6 still has a fresh, fun vibe and I hope it’s the beginning of a trend towards more kids’ superhero stories from the Marvel/Disney/Pixar dream factory.
The heart of this movie is really the relationship between Baymax and Hiro, helping him get over a big tragedy in his life (I am not going to spoil what that tragedy is, but the YouTube trailer has no such hesitation if you’re interested). However, there is also a small group of friends (who play a relatively peripheral role in the movie’s drama) and Hiro’s techno-smarts turn them all into super-heroes. They suit up to help him and Baymax foil the main villain’s big scheme, and the action sequences for those scenes are top-notch. The animated motions of the heroes in their super-suits, doing all kinds of slick-yet-silly things in battle, were smooth and rapid. The other element of Disney-fication of the Big Hero 6 story was having the main character going through an emotional challenge/tragedy. Disney and Pixar both have a way of putting its adorable characters through adult-sized life-events that really get a grip on the audience’s heartstrings. Themes of personal loss and finding strength in others are good lessons for young viewers, and I’m glad that Disney has never really been shy about dealing with these kinds of ideas (albeit in a scaled-down, clean, closed-ended way).
I really enjoyed Big Hero 6, and I hope it represents the start of a new branch of Disney storytelling away from their mega-successful “princess” movies (not that I didn’t love Frozen, because I definitely did) that goes in the direction of modern, sci-fi-based adventures. 4 out of 5